• Courtney Kirschaum

Don't give it your all at work - do this

This question came in recently,

"CL" asks:

“In this time, it is Important to have a “plan B”? A.K.A maybe a backup career? In all the news about recessions and tanking industries, this has weighed heavily on my mind.”

“It does not do to leave a live dragon out of your calculations, if you live near him.” [or her] 

― J.R.R. Tolkien, The Hobbit, or There and Back Again

Here’s my two cents worth (pesos or pence, what have you.)

The reason people, even ones who love their jobs, become wage-slaves, is the near-feudal work model, which not only normalizes, but celebrates, the one-job, single source of income that most rely on 100% for survival.  

Single source of income is a Kamikaze run with a “Give it your all” battle cry. 

Giving It Your All at work is the kiss of death more often than not.

Freaking out yet? Let me make an important distinction.

In your career, yes, give it your all, because your career (or body of work) is what you’re building with the bricks, which are your jobs.

Taking this metaphor a little further you can stack bricks up but it won’t make much of a wall without mortar. That's your career strategy, your plan and your safety net. 

Here's a another reason to not give "your all."

No job can compensate you for “your all.” 

Hello Theory of Diminishing Returns.

One scoop of Miracle Grow in my tomato plants works wonderfully, put it all in there? Crop failure. 

Giving it your all to one job doesn’t necessarily mean better results, it’s often just a romantic idea that turns you into a commodity who’s more likely to burn out. 

Let’s talk about those people who give it, say,  75%. 

How’s that turn out?

Depends on what you do with the remaining 25%.

Where you invest your most valuable commodity, time, is your call.

One lawyer you've probably heard of took his 25% in the early morning before going to work practicing law and wrote a book -  John Grisham. Yet you don't have to be John Grisham to have a risk-mitigating, liberating, smarter career strategy.

The simple answer to your question is don’t rely on a single stream of income. The finer distinction is don't make it a plan B, per se. Which implies that plan A "failed" and you have to "fallback."

Make Plan A better and more organic. Expand your existing strategy to be more bulletproof than the one-job approach

If you don’t have a job now, take one thing at a time.

First, protect your freedom to keep your options open. Increasing numbers of employers are using non-compete agreements to  take that freedom away.

  1. When you accept a job, protect your rights in your contract. One big driver for starting Job Hunt School is to teach people how to escape the soul crushing, freedom stealing trap of the non-compete. 

  2. When you have a paycheck coming in, play defensively. 

In this post, I write about that and how liberating it is to start and maintain an eff-you fund.

Fact: some people are making bank right now.  

Some people are in a terrible place. And if that’s you, I hope that ends very soon.

If you’ve been giving 100% or more, you can start clawing it back - unless it's so lucrative and you're living so well within your means, you're covered. And my hat's off to you if you are. 

Takeaway: your career takes precedence over the job.

It's worth mentioning a separate stream of income is not just about money. It’s about peace of mind.

And here’s a counter-intuitive truth: walking away from the soul sucking single source of income makes you a better employee and lowers stress.

One job/one paycheck inclines you put up with all kinds of petty, bullying, disrespectful BS you’d be better off walking away from.

Imagine how empowering it is to know you can walk away.  #TakeThisJobAndShoveIt 

Final bonus: This also significantly reduces fear and neediness, making you more promotable and more hire-able. 

This power makes you infinitely more appealing to current employers and future ones. 

If you're down with expanding your plan A to get less stress and more power,  get on the list to hear about Career Strategy when it drops. #Bricks&Mortar 


PS - latest updates to the COVID19 site are here.